How to learn to trust others
Tips for opening up and getting closer to those important to you
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
Trust is the ability to have faith and belief in another person. If we trust someone, we trust that they will be there for us and we feel that it is safe to share secrets, private thoughts and emotions with them. Basically, if we trust someone, we feel we can be close to them.
Trust is the bedrock of a relationship. Without trust, a relationship or friendship cannot grow.
Why can’t I trust?
There are many reasons why we may find it hard to trust other people. These reasons can include having had a difficult childhood and difficult relationship with your parents.
Sometimes we may not have learnt to trust because the people who were meant to love us were not there for us. Experiencing heart break, betrayal or abuse from those we had previously trusted can also make it difficult to then trust others in the future.
The issue with not trusting
Without trust you can’t form any close friendships or relationships. This protects you from possible hurt, but it also leaves you lonely and isolated.
A lack of trust can cause problems in relationships and friendships, because you don’t feel confident about sharing your private thoughts so the friendship/relationship won’t move forward. It can alienate the other person in the relationship as they may find it hard to be close to you if you do not trust them.
Trust is needed for a friendship/relationship to grow. The important thing to remember is although you might be finding it difficult to trust people currently, you do not always have to feel that way. Learning to trust people again is possible by starting small and working to build it over time.
How to learn to trust
Learn to trust in yourself
When you have faith in yourself and a belief that you can get through things and take risks, it will be easier for you to make the leap to trusting others. Learn more about how to build your self belief.
Shore up your inner resources so that you know you can and will survive if someone betrays your trust. The inability to trust people is based on the fear of pain and betrayal. If you know you will be able to cope if the worst happens, this will make trusting easier. Professional counselling may be helpful if you feel that you cannot move beyond your trust barriers. Often, universities or schools may be able to provide support to those looking to speak to a counsellor.
Take it slow
You don’t have to jump from being wary and guarded to spilling all your secrets and private thoughts. Just take it one step at a time. Maybe share one thing with one person and see how it feels. Maybe just tell them that you are having a bad day and see how it goes. Trust builds slowly.
Spread the trust
It is easier to trust a few people in your life a little bit, than it is to trust one person 100%. It is also an emotionally safer strategy.
Acknowledge the trust you have
Recognise that even if you are the most cynical and untrusting person in the world, you still have a small amount of trust in the universe. You trust that the postman will deliver your goods and not steal them, you trust that food labels are in date at the supermarket and you trust that the cars won’t run you over when you cross at a pedestrian crossing. By starting small it may help reassure you that you can trust others also.
The people we put our trust in may let us down, but this does not mean that we should never trust them again. Practicing forgiveness, by letting go of the times people may have broken your trust, can help you to move forward in relationships without what happened in the past hanging over you. It is difficult to learn to trust someone again if you cannot forgive them. Speaking to the person close to you about what happened can help to repair the relationship so that you can move forward together.